DETROIT–The Michigan State Hockey team have been nothing short of “just a participating team” in recent Great Lakes Invitational play. The Spartans have not reached the championship game since 2014. That trend continued in the 53rd Installment of the battle for the MacInnes trophy as the Spartans fell to Michigan Tech 5-3.
After holding a 1-0 lead after the first period, the Spartans could not respond from a three-goal second period by the Huskies. Sloppy play lead to the game-clinching goal for Tech as they move on to face the winner of Michigan and Bowling Green in the GLI championship.
With the victory the Huskies improve to 10-7-5 on the year while Michigan State drops to 8-10-1. The Spartans also fall to 26-16-2 all-time in GLI semifinal games.
On their first power-play opportunity of the game, the Spartans found the back of the net. With :44 seconds remaining in the opening period, Zach Osburn scored his first goal of the season to put Michigan State up 1-0. From the right face-off circle, Osburn sent a wrist shot towards Michigan Tech goaltender Robbie Beydoun for what looked like would be an easy save. However, Beydoun spilled the puck off of his pad and it rolled into the back of the net.
I bridge of goals in the second period saw the Huskies up 3-2 with 20 minutes remaining.
Michigan Tech was able to take a commanding 3-1 lead just over five minutes into the second period after a stretch where they scored three goals in a 3:32 span. Alex Smith scored his fifth goal of the season to tie the game at 1-1 2:04 into the period. Smith received a pass from Brent Baltus and kicked the puck past Spartan goaltender John Lethemon. 1:15 later, Jake Lucchini scored his sixth goal of the year to give the Huskies their first lead. Luchinni sent a wrist shot from the left circle over Lethemons right shoulder. 2:07 later, Alex Gillies tallied his fourth goal of the year to put Michigan Tech up 3-1. While in front of the crease, Gillies received a pass from Luchinni and back-handed the puck past Lethemon.
As the period drew to a close the Spartans were able to draw within a goal off of Patrick Khodorenko’s seventh goal of the year. With 1:27 remaining, Khodorenko sent a wrist shot that clanged off of the past and into the net to draw MSU to 3-2.
After a late Michigan Tech goal in the third, a 4-2 deficit was insurmountable for Michigan State.
With 4:54 remaining, sloppy play in their defensive end led to their demise. Jared Rosburg turned the puck over behind his own net and Tech’s Alex Smith knocked it to Gavin Gould who pushed the puck through Lethemon’s legs for his seventh goal of the season.
Jake Jackson added an empty-net goal with :20 seconds remaining to secure the 5-3 victory.
Lethemon had a somewhat average outing in between the pipes for MSU, pushing away 27 of the 31 shots he faced. Beydoun saved 29 of the 31 Spartans shots on goal.
With the loss, the Spartans will face the loser between Michigan and Bowling Green.